DONALD J AND JARED

Trump’s Circle of Trust

There is something not quite right about the relationship that President Donald Trump has with his family and his work. He cannot seem to separate the two. While the mingling of business and family might be common in some royal families, in America it’s viewed with some skepticism.

There are those who didn’t like John Kennedy appointing his brother Robert to Attorney General. And no one talks about Harry Truman giving his wife Bess a job in the White House. She rose to Chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, a position that garnered a paycheck, but according to biographers, not a position in which she actively participated.

Now, we have the President’s son-in-law positioned in a role of intense involvement and power: Senior Advisory to the President. There was stretch where Donald Trump was assigning young Jared a new job every other day, from bringing peace in the middle east to reorganizing the government to fixing the judicial system. Really?

We should remember Jared’s blast into business started with this headline: Kushner took over the family business when his father went to jail. And the person who helped put Charles Kushner behind bars was Chris Christie. You know the one who got passed over by the Donald. Jared was forced into running the family business at the age of 26 while his father was in federal prison convicted of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering.

I have just read the full six-pages of Jared Kushner’s statement to the Congressional Committee. This well-written document seems rather honest and direct. He’s 36 years old, but he seems to be traveling in a space way over his head. He forgets people, he doesn’t recall meetings, but worst of all, he didn’t even read the whole email that Don Jr. sent him. Jared, you have to read from the bottom up. This is the problem with top-down rich kids. And come on, how could you forget the name of the Russian Ambassador to the US?

He doesn’t remember meetings, but clearly remembers getting an email from Guccifer400, huh? Then he admits asking if there was an “existing communications channel at his (Russian) embassy” and mere sentences later, says, “I did not suggest a ‘secret back channel.’” He needs to get his story straight.

His last paragraph raised some eyebrows, “I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.” This is one of those sentences written by a skilled attorney. “I have not relied…” doesn’t mean, I have no Russian investors in my properties. It could simply mean “I had no financial help while building or buying a property.” In fact, many Russian investors have bought or rented space in Trump and Kushner properties. They are customers.

Mr. Kushner needs to be placed under oath and questioned about the meeting with the banker on December 13, 2016. The bank is a state-owned property and the banker, Sergey Gorkov, gave Jared presents from his grandparents’ home in Belarus. Wait, the Kushners are from Belarus?  Is that the same Belarus once part of Russia which became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. Oh boy, the story couldn’t get any richer.

So, Jared’s grand parents came from a Soviet bloc country and Donald Trump’s grand parents came from Germany. They are both second-generation immigrants. Of course, sons of different mothers, but this certainly makes the Trump anti-immigrant stance paradoxical.

Back to the President’s son-in-law, why does Trump need his daughter and Jared in the White House? What amount of insecurity do we, the American public, have to endure with Trump? We need him to make clear, objective decisions. The advice of family members can be tainted if they are more eager to please rather than providing truthful feedback. Ivanka could go on every Climate Change march and wear a skin-tight-fitting T-shirt that screamed Save the Planet and her father would ignore any action to help accomplish a better environment.

Jared, with his liberal views and democratic ways, is just a “yes man” and the “doer” while the Donald can jet around and scream to crazy-cult crowds of supporters. We know that Jared has contributed zero to the healthcare bill. As he said in his statement to the Congressional Committee, he’s so busy with thousands of emails, he doesn’t have time to read them all. He’s so busy, he doesn’t have time to do his job.

I almost laughed at the explanation about why the SF-86 had to be amended so many times. Jared Kushner’s excuse sounds like one of those ‘the dog ate my homework’ stories that so many parents and teachers have heard. Okay, you messed up kid, your assistant submitted a rough draft to the FBI. Wow, sure glad it wasn’t some important document.

All of this vividly reveals that Donald J. Trump and his associates are unaware of the laws of governance and uninterested in proper documentation. They are flying by the seat of their pants, and those pants aren’t even made in America.

In the movie Meet the Parents, Robert De Niro’s character, Jack Byrnes, introduces Ben Stiller’s persona, Greg Focker, to what Jack calls the “Byrnes Circle of Trust.” There’s this dialog: “See if I can’t trust you Greg, then I have no choice but to put you outside the circle. Once you’re out, you’re out. There’s no coming back.”

The difference between Trump and Jack Byrnes is when Trump sends someone away that he has endorsed in the past, he doesn’t send them out of the circle. He cannot admit he was wrong. He still speaks well of Michael Flynn, a person who could bring the Donald’s presidency to its knees. He says nice things about Sean Spicer. And maybe that is why he uses his family members as tools. Poor Don Jr. is a “good kid.”

It’s easier to be loyal to your family members than to those outside the circle of trust. Everyone will give Trump a pass on sticking up for his kids, but it’s getting harder to believe that Trump can shovel the same hackneyed phrases and conspiracy theories to all of the country without someone asking this question. Why do we want to be friends with Russia? Why is being friends with them so important to Trump and Jared? Are we worried more about protecting Belarus than the Ukrainian people from Russia?  Hey, just asking.

 


THE WHITE HOUSE IS NOT A FAMILY BUSINESS

Whatever Happened to Nepotism Rules?

Nepotism is the practice among those in power of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. The law is pretty clear in our government and it applies to anyone hired in the executive, legislative or judicial branch:

A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.

This isn’t “Fake News”, it’s 5 U.S. Code § 3110 – Employment of relatives; restrictions.  I don’t believe that not taking a paycheck, negates this rule. It says “appoint to a civilian position.” The appointment alone is not allowed.

Why does Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, have an office in the White House?  Why is her husband, Jared Kushner, a top adviser and “employee” of the White House? They said they put their companies in a trust, although many ethics experts say that they haven’t done enough. Trump, the President himself, is benefiting from money flowing from foreign governments through his properties, but the issue and violation of the Emoluments Clause, will be covered at a later time.

Let’s focus on nepotism for this article. Why is this important? Why is there a rule that prohibits this? One problem that can arise from the government advertising an opening at one of its agencies, interviewing applicants and then hiring a less qualified person to serve in the position. It’s bad business and shoddy business practice to hire the lesser able person.

Another possible violation can occur if someone is passed over and claims they didn’t get the job because of something other than their talent and qualifications. That could trigger a lawsuit based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, of course, bars discrimination because of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. You may not be able to prove the intent, but the embarrassment of a court battle would cost the country money and time.

A further problem can result when a senior male employee marries a lower ranking female member of the team. Who has to leave the agency, the senior male, or the woman? This opens up the possible legal problem of sexual discrimination. In the case of Ivanka and Jared, you don’t have that problem, but we do see the complications when offspring are given responsibilities.

The situation with Donald Trump, Jr. and his meeting with a Russian attorney exposes the President to the fact that he will probably lie for his kids, just as easily as he lies about so many other things. If Don Jr. was a mere employee of the campaign, like Paul Manafort, Daddy Trump would have thrown him under the bus. Parents don’t usually do the right thing with their kids, instead they do the right thing for their kids. Think about what Trump Sr. said about his son, “He’s a good boy.” He’s almost 40-years-old Mr. President, but you see him as a “boy?” And the praise for all his transparency was so father-like, while today (7-14-2017) we learned that there were two other people in the room during the meeting; previous undisclosed. What are they hiding?

According to Forbes Magazine, “Kathy Wiseman, a founder of and consultant at Working Systems, thinks everyone should be careful in such a situation. Wiseman advises family businesses and organizations, bringing them both sociology and 30 years of business experience. She estimates that nepotism among top executives works out only 40% of the time.”

So, if nepotism causes problems or at least complications and discomfort 60% of the time, why are we the people allowing Donald Trump to instate less qualified people in positions around him without anyone charging forward and waving 5 U.S. Code § 3110 in his face? Who checks the White House on the matter of employment?

We broke away from a King and a kingdom in 1776. Part of what the rebels here in the 13 States wanted to avoid was an unelected king operating freely and unchecked above the law. Their solution was to create a revolution and break away from the tyranny of Kings. Royalty is based on bloodlines and the children of Kings and Queens get to take over when the parent expires. Does the US now live in that world?

Why are any of Trump’s kids involved in this administration? Perhaps the President needs his “blankie” of his children blindly supporting him and telling him he’s right. But this is only going to end in problems. Don Jr. and the exposure of his emails is just an example of why there is a rule about hiring your kids. And one could ask, what does Ivanka do? What is her job description? As a tax payer, can I see that?  NEPOTISM is bad for business and worse for the United States.

I find it rather remarkable that seven months into this administration we hear the words, “innocent”, “unethical”, “illegal” and “hoax” more often than a normal White House would produce. We can only hope that the Democrats find some believable messenger between now and 2020. The king has no pants and not a lot of regard for the law.

 

 


RUSSIA! RUSSIA! RUSSIA!

Shameful Abuse of Stupid

The idiom, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is what first came to mind when I read the emails that were sent to Donald Trump, Jr. He believed they were sent by a Russian government lawyer who was willing to give him dirt on the Clinton campaign. What was a weekend of misdirects from Don Jr. finally turned out to be his release of the emails the New York Times was citing on the affair.  By the way, his release came only minutes before the Times divulged the emails.  Coincidence?

Another fact that whooshed through my brain was the old P.T. Barnum line, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” This is true in business and, I guess the Circus, but in politics and governance that is only a semi-fact. Trump has always fed fact fragments and partial truths to the press, believing deep down inside that they are stupid enough to print it. Worse, the Donald believes that citizens are gullible and unaware, and, therefore, will believe anything he says.

This news of a meeting in the Trump Tower between Don Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, was documented in an email that the New York Times craftily obtained. This revelation was clearly bad news for the Trump White House, because their defense has always been that they never met with Russians. Well, the cat is now out of the bag and a conspiracy has been revealed. Even with Don Jr. protecting his Dad, this stinks like a dead skunk on a country road.

Maybe Donald Trump and his extended DNA believe that only children and fools tell the truth, but when you become President of the United States, you are expected to be honest. The oath that the President elect takes, says:  I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Now, I might be accused of being presumptuous here, but I do believe the framers were assuming that the President would always tell the truth. Right?

The defense of little Don-Don is quite fantastic. Lawyers are paid to spin, deny and deliver a positive verdict for their clients, but wait, why do they all have different attorneys? Oh my, does this mean, they are agreeing that something is there? Are they afraid of individually being in legal jeopardy? Clearly, the release of Don Jr’s. own emails can be called “transparent” by his father, but in fact, the son of a POTUS released the missives to get out in front of the Times story. This is much like James Comey releasing his notes to the New York Times before the President claimed something different was said at their meetings.

The legal team’s disguise was constructed on the basis that Don Jr didn’t know who he was meeting with and the event was so insignificant that he never told his father who was then the candidate for President. In fact, Jared Kushner also “forgot” to include the meeting in his security clearance form. It has been said that he amended that form which started the press inquiries into what was discussed at that meeting.

The President’s plausible deniability will be based on Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr never telling him about the meeting, but there is a way to find that out? They all need to be put under oath.

The meeting with the Russian operative was thought to have some meat, thus the CC to Manafort and Kushner. All three men attended the meeting.  At least Donald Jr and Jared Kushner can make sure they have their story straight, but Paul Manafort, a person who received millions of dollars from a Kremlin backed candidate in the Ukraine, surely has his own lawyer and perhaps a different recollection of the meeting.

The government could very easily “turn” Manafort and Michael Flynn against the President himself if they squeeze the vice tightly and make it clear there could be jail time. If I am reading this right: Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. That is the Logan Act and surely, Manafort and Flynn have discussed sanctions with the “agent thereof” the Russian government. Would protecting the President be worth three years in jail?

Now I know that the Trump Teams will defend this “little” twenty-minute meeting with nothing of value was exchanged.  Even though the content of the emails clearly shows Don Jr’s delight at the prospect of getting what they are terming “opposition research” from this Russian lawyer, time will tell if that was only one meeting, or were there a series of meetings or communications? Indeed, the “so-called” research ended up at the doorsteps of Wikileaks and was published, so we do know something happened in the late summer timeline that Don Jr desired in writing.

Today (7-12-2017) Donald Trump tweeted, “My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!” The President was referring to an appearance on the Fox News channel where he admitted to Sean Hannity, a known Trump operative, “In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.” Good boy, good boy, sit, roll over, good little Donnie. Here’s a little treat, now go back to your office and shut up. So much for “Witch Hunt” Mr. President, you cannot escape from the truth with flashy jargon.

One of the most irritating things that our President and all his men and women do is deflecting to the past.  It’s like a child getting caught and then, responding straight from an over-grown amygdala, “Bobby did it first Mommy.” Even Donald Trump, the father, cannot stop this repetitive invective for things: “Why aren’t the same standards placed on the Democrats? Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!”

The only change of tone was the use of the phrase “may have gotten away with,” which psychologists say is one typically used when threatened with the truth.  It’s an attempt to throw doubt on someone else. In this case, however, Trump seems to be less cavalier and a bit more legalistic with his words saying “may have.”

The word Russia is being said more and more each week as the forces claw their way closer to the truth. We may have to step on some “stupid” to get the facts, but we will get there. And as we get closer, more and more Republicans will realize that their party has been hijacked and they will surely start to get into position to take it back. Republicans are tired of hearing the chant of Russia, Russia, Russia and the American people will settle for a President Pence to get this behind us.


DONALD TRUMP IS NO AXEL FOLEY

The President is Always on Defense

What if you started a new job and the first thing the new boss said to you was, “I’m right about everything and you must never disagree with me about anything.” Anyone worth their salt and without a large mortgage payment would flee the building.

We don’t always get to vote on our bosses, but we do vote for our President. Let’s review once again, Hillary Clinton got 65,844,610 votes which was 48.2% of the popular vote, while the man who is President got 62,979,636, only 46.1%. Another fact, there were 7,804,213, or 5.7% of the voters who cast their ballot for someone other than the two headliners.

In real life and according to a May 9, 2017 Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, 46% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance, while 54% disapprove. Doing the math, that means that more than half the people in the USA don’t think Trump is doing a very good job. And in my unscientific poll, there is a large percentage of people in the country who actually hate him.

Most Presidents start out by presenting their case and through their actions they slowly warm up the citizens who might not have voted for them. People aren’t as dumb as Bill Maher claims they are, but there still are massive numbers of people in the country who follow Trump like a cult leader. One of the meanings of cult is a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

Trump thinks he’s the master of the redirect, which was aptly demonstrated in the movie Beverly Hills Cops II. Gilbert Gottfried played a guy at City Hall in charge of all city records. Eddie Murphy and his cop sidekicks used intimidation to trick the timid clerk. The fun begins when Murphy’s character holds a stack of parking tickets he claims belong to Bernstein’s wife:

Sidney Bernstein setting up bribe says, “Wait, l’ve got an idea. ls there something that I have in this office that I could hand to you and that would make you kind of forget that you’re holding those little pink tickets there?” Gottfried proceeds to propose a $200 bribe to have the tickets go away. The metaphor and sleight of hand helps the police get into the city computer.

And the innocent question, “You’d go, what did l have there? I don’t remember.” Of course, “forgetting” was code for just disremembering that he just gave a large bribe to the cops. What is in one hand, made what was in the other hand go away.

On the one hand, Sally Yates just testified about warning the President about Michael Flynn and the President and all his men did nothing for 18 days. On the other, Trump fired James Comey, Director of the FBI, on May 9, 2017.

On one hand, Jared Kushner’s sister used the image of the President and her brother’s position at the White House to sell EB-5 visas to Chinese investors.

So, for $500,000 anyone without clearance, without vetting can purchase a Green Card and move to the United States. While other workers, future immigrants and refugees seeking asylum have to wait in line. Trump approved this measure a few days before Jared’s sister did her pitch, but on the campaign trail he was so worried about how people get into the country. How is the “Golden Visa” EB-5 program even legal? I guess Trump knows best. I mean, how could a terrorist afford that much money? They can’t just take it out of the ISIS bank, or could they?

On the other hand Trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI on May 9, 2017.

As the cable news channel regurgitate diatribes assigned to their political formats, the American public is, once again, fooled by the master liar in the White House. Even Fox News wasn’t quite sure how to handle the firing of James Comey. It was delightful to watch them try to vocalize whether this was good or bad. You can’t keep switching your position on major issues and expect the American people to understand your true values.

The real journalists need to step up right now.  They should keep on the Russian story. Why is Donald J. Trump so defensive about this?  It sure does feel like Nixon. Remember what really got to the bottom of the whole Watergate mess was a special prosecutor. We’ve already seen the movie, now we just have to read the script.

And they should be taking the press secretary to the wood shed on the EB-5 visa program and how it makes America less secure.

Why not find the answers, or is the Donald afraid that what he has in his one small hand might show that the other small hand has been signing things at the urging of some dark force from a faraway land?

Someone should follow the money. A thorough analysis of everything Trump does would be in order. How will every decision affect his kids and their wealth? The signing of the budget with the extension of the EB-5 just happened; what else has he done? Or maybe it’s nothing, but why not clear the air? What are you afraid of, Mr. President?

I for one, will not be silent, #NotOnMyWatch.